Brewery: Dogfish Head (Milton, DE)
Style: Fruit Beer
No, I haven't gone soft on you.
I know some of you that read this blog, probably just caught the "fruit beer" style and thought that perhaps Tone has lost it since the 12 Beers of Christmas countdown.
Listen, if you are going to judge before even tasting a beer, then check your ego at the door. Now, I will admit, I'm not the hugest fan of lambics or beers that a "tart" quality to them. But again, the more I write in the blog, and the more I talk to other craft beerheads, and the more I taste, err, "research", the more my taste buds are opening to new and unique styles. After all, Pumpkin Beers are in the "Fruit and Vegetable" beer category, and you know my stance on Pumpkin Ales.
Also, admittedly a fan of Dogfish Head, I had heard about this beer when my girlfriend Michelle mentioned that they had it on draft down at the Plan B Burger Bar in Milford. I also remember hearing about it before when we visited the brewery back in July, but never really looked into it. I knew it was a limited release, had something to do with raspberries and was pretty strong.
So this past Friday, we went out to one of our favorite places, Mikro... and luckily they still had a few taps left on from their Dogfish Tap Takeover on Monday. First I had the Dogfish Ta Henket (more on that later), then New England Brewing's Ghandi-Bot, and lastly ended with the focus of this post, Dogfish Fort. Served in a signature Dogfish glass, complete with laser-etched logo on the bottom. It had about an inch of white head that quickly dissipated, on top of an orange/golden color. The nose was FULL of raspberry sweetness. If you've ever had the 120 minute, imagine the love child of a raspberry lambic and a 120. Along with the fruits, you know that there's some booze, simply by the nose. Bring on the taste.
WOWZA... You know in Mike Tyson's Punch Out for Nintendo when Little Mac had a "star" and you got to punch your opponent with a really strong uppercut?? Yeah, that's what this is. Hello 18%. But I knew what I was getting into, and I'm not the least bit upset about it. It wasn't as sweet as I thought it was going to be. It had a complex mouthfeel full of malts and bready sweetness. Slightly syrupy. A sipper no doubt. If you have this on a cold winter night, you WILL be warm after a glass. After two glasses? Enter Sandman.
This beer is what I'd like to call a game-changer. After all, I found out later that it is considered the World's Strongest Fruit Beer. This little puppy clocks in at 18%. If you start your night with it, your taste buds will be somewhat shot. And chances are, you won't need too many more beers (if any) to be well on your way. It's heavy, its sweet, its rich... What a second... Desserts can be heavy, sweet, and rich... Do we have a pairing here?! While I did just have this beer on its own (because believe me, it can TOTALLY stand on its own), Head Brewmaster, Sam Caligione suggested pairing the Fort with a chocolatey dessert. Something that would match up well with fruit and maybe some dark chocolate.
I found it to be absolutely delicious. Full bodied, full flavor, boozy, mild tartness, malty... great end to the evening. Overall: A
If you can't find this on draft... snag a bottle even if you don't have any sort of event to drink it at. Given the high ABV, this will age very nicely I think. Perfect for after dinner. But, its rare - so if you see that bottle on the shelf, do NOT delay.
Earlier, I mentioned the Ta Henket from Dogfish. This beer is an absolute enigma to me. Long story, short, I bought a bottle for a New Years Eve party to share with a bunch of friends. As I poured out the beer for people, there was a definite "FUNK" that I'm not used to when it comes to beers, especially unique offerings like the Ta Henket. I don't know if the beer got skunked, but it had a tunafish smell to it. It poured a straw pale yellow color and had little to no head on it. Bottomline: The grossest beer I ever tasted/smelled. I dumped 3/4 of the bottle down the sink.
Now that being said...
I noticed that Mikro had it on draft. I was determined to give Sam and his vision of the Ta Henket another try. After a small sample, I was happily surprised with the outcome. Very light, dry... lots of champagne like carbonation... had the same color hue to it, but the taste was absolutely 180 degrees different from the last time I tried it. It was fantastic... everything that I hoped it would have been on New Years Eve.
So, if you see this on draft, I highly recommend starting your night with it. All of the light qualities make it a perfect match for a Fried Calamari, Cheese Plate, or Mussels appetizer. In the bottle... I'm not 100% sold on buying it this way. Maybe we just got a bad bottle on New Years, who knows. Sam Caligione does describe that he used wild yeasts to ferment the beer. Perhaps its just not conducive to bottling.